Of guts and glory

15 Feb
15 februari, 2016

The letter you’re about to read first saw daylight over a year ago. Actually, it first saw moonlight because I sat straight up in bed at 3:20 am and just had to write this down. Why did I hesitate to post? Because I thought my middle-of-the-night venting might have been too harsh. (You’ll get the full irony of me not having guts here in a minute when you read the letter.) But believe me when I say this comes from a place of desperately wanting to help. Oh, how I just want to help my clients be amazing. Because you all have amazing potential. And of course, there are also countless times you guys blow me out of the water with your smart ideas and bold moves. So this is also my tribute to every hard-fought creative idea you’ve pushed through your organizations.

Dear clients,

Can we talk about guts for a minute? Because my guess is, yours are pretty smart. When you really love a creative idea (when you feel that little twinge of excitement and know right away it’s a winning concept), your gut reaction is probably right. Trust it.

And fight for it.

Of course, we know that’s not easy. Especially when you need to involve lots of people. After the first “Aha!” moment, the rationalizing starts. Because, well, if you ask people what they think, they often feel they haven’t done their job if they don’t come up with “tweaks.” But more often than not, once people start overthinking and changing things – no matter how rational the reasons – the concept loses that special something. In other words, it will not be the same concept that got you excited. And that’s a shame, because it means you’ll never know the power it could have had on your target audience — and your bottom line.

Here’s a little story of how things could have gone (and sadly often do).

Pitch meeting …

In an imaginary Nike conference room in an alternate reality, a creative team unveils a new communication concept: Just do it.

And the clients are jubilant. ”We love it! Yes, this is the direction we want to go. It’s simple and powerful.”

A few days later, via email …

”We’ve had some feedback from various stakeholders and, although we still love it, there’s some concern it could be misunderstood. What if people think we’re talking about s.e.x.? You know, just do IT. So we’d like to make a minor change: just switch ‘it’ to ‘sports.’ That’s our core brand essence, after all. [smiley-face emoticon]”

More days pass, with a lot more emails …

”Remember, not all of our target groups participate in sports. We also target spectators.”

”The word ‘just’ might seem harsh or pushy.”

”Wait! We don’t actually mention our offering! We have to get that in there.”

An hour before print deadline …

”So sorry, guys, but Legal is insisting on making sure we aren’t recommending that people do anything beyond their health limits. Good news, though, with this last small adjustment, we’ve got everyone on board to sign off!”

The result …

Nike – Just do or watch sports safely* in high-performance athletic apparel and equipment, when you feel like it

*Always consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before doing anything.

The moral of the story?

If a creative concept gets you excited, just do it.

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